The National STEM Communicators Challenge: Hidden Mathematics at Work

National Science Week Logo
Did you know that secret mathematics is hiding in plain sight, making our lives easier and more efficient? Help uncover the secret by exploring the ways in which mathematics is at work in our everyday lives. 

To celebrate National Science Week, the Mathematical Sciences Institute at the Australian National University is proud to present The National STEM Communicators Challenge:  Hidden Mathematics at Work. This activity is generously funded by the National Science Week Grants 2022.

This initiative aims to draw attention to the secret role of mathematics in almost everything we do and develop the next generation of science communicators. The activity has two parts:

  • The National STEM Communicators Challenge: A competition open to the general public, in which participants submit a short video on the theme “Hidden Mathematics at Work”. Videos should aim to be engaging and accessible to a broad audience. For example, an excellent submission should capture the imagination of eighth graders across Australia.
  • Hidden Mathematics at Work: A Public Lecture - Monday 15 August 2022
    Come along or tune in to hear experts describe surprising, accessible, and compelling examples of mathematics that enables modern life in Australia but often goes unnoticed. The lecture will draw public attention to the important role of mathematics, and may provide inspiration for would-be competition entrants.

The deadline for submissions has been extended until 4th September. Submit your video in the link below: 
>> submission form 

The National STEM Communicators Challenge

This is a competition open to the general public, in which participants submit a short video on the theme “Hidden Mathematics at Work”. You can participate as an individual or as a team. 

To participate, follow these instructions:

  1. Find out about hidden mathematics. If you need a good examples, watch this video on the maths of ISBN-10 or this one on credit cards and the Luhn algorithm
  2. Plan and make a short video (no more than 3 minutes) explaining in a fun, engaging way what you have learned. 
  3. Upload your video to a video sharing platform (such as YouTube, Vimeo, TikTok, etc) 
  4. Complete the submission form before 11.59 pm on the 4th September 2022. 

The videos will be viewed by experts from ANU.  Cash prizes and certificates will be awarded in various categories: 

  • 1 Best Science Communicator Award ($500), for the individual that submits the best entry
  • 1 Best Science Communicators Group Award ($500) for the group that submits the best entry
  • 10 Outstanding Science Communicator(s) Awards ($100 each), for individuals or groups. Each winner will also receive a certificate, signed by the director of the MSI.

More details about the competition, including submission details, example videos, and some classroom activities that help participants develop their science communication skills and plan their video entries will be available soon.

Judging Criteria

The following criteria will be important when judging submissions:

How well does the submission achieve its aim?
The aim is to make a video that exposes and explains hidden mathematics at work. An excellent submission will describe some mathematics and explain how it is ``at work.’’ The judges will ask: "Will a broad audience across Australia understand the mathematical explanation?", "Will a broad audience across Australia understand how the mathematics is useful?"

How well does the submission engage the audience?
You should imagine your audience to be a made up of eighth grade students across Australia. To be effective, a submission should engage the audience’s attention throughout. The judges will ask: "How engaging is the submission?", "How fun is it to watch the submission?", "Will the audience find the presentation interesting and relevant", "Is the appeal of the submission inclusive?" (for example, are captions provided?)

Is the submission of an appropriate length?
Videos with run-times of approximately 2 minutes are ideal. Videos with run-times exceeding 3 minutes (180 seconds) are too long. 

Please note that the production quality is not one of the judging criteria. We understand that not everyone has access to high-quality videography equipment and video editing tools - we want you to do your best with what you have. As long as the judges can hear the audio, and see the visuals, you’re good!

Terms and conditions

  1. ANU College of Science (ABN: 52 234 063 906)
  2. Information on how to enter the ANU STEM Communicators Challenge: Hidden Mathematics at Work forms part of these Terms and Conditions.
  3. Entry is open to all Australian residents and a group of international students.
  4. Entry to the competition is via the ANU Mathematical Sciences Institute Outreach and Engagement web page.
  5. There is no entry fee for the competition.
  6. ANU College of Science Staff and their immediate family are excluded from participation.
  7. There is one Best Science Communicators Group Award prize available to groups; there is one Best Science Communicator Award prize available to an individual;  there are ten Outstanding Science Communicator(s) Award prizes available for individuals and groups.
  8. The ANU College of Science and the ANU College of Health and Medicine reserve the right to modify or remove any prizes if required, or not to award a prize.
  9. The prize must be taken as stated and no compensation will be payable if the prize winner is unable to use the prize as stated. The prize is not transferable to another person or exchangeable for other goods and services.
  10. The entrant will be solely responsible for any costs or taxes incurred as part of the competition, or claiming of the prize, including but not limited to any taxes.
  11. Prize winners will be notified in writing (email) on or before 5 pm Sunday, August 28.
  12. Each participant is only allowed one individual submission and one additional group submission.
  13. By entering the competition, you declare that the submitted work is entirely your own.
  14. The ANU College of Science reserves the right to withdraw applications at any stage for any reason determined appropriate by the ANU College of Science.
  15. The ANU College of Science reserves the right to extend or modify the closing date.
  16. Submissions will be marked by a panel of judges chosen by the ANU College of Science.
  17. The ANU College of Science reserve the right to determine the final outcome of the competition, and to name and order winners and prizes.
  18. By entering the competition, all entrants and their guardians (where applicable) understand and give permission to the ANU College of Science and sponsors to use the winners name, video/photo submission, likeness and work for promotional purposes, and other purposes deemed appropriate.
  19. The concerned parties also understand and facilitate consent to measures covered under
  20. Participants agree that the ANU College of Science and sponsoring entities are not liable for any damages or losses arising from the competition.
  21. All submitted work is subject to the ANU College of Science Privacy Policy.
  22. Incomprehensible and incomplete entries will be deemed invalid.
  23. The ANU College of Science reserve the right to verify the validity of entries and to disqualify any entry which in the opinion of the ANU College of Science includes objectionable content, profanity, potentially insulting, inflammatory or defamatory statements, disqualify any entrant who tampers with the entry process, who submits an entry that is not in accordance with these terms and conditions of entry or who has, in the opinion of the ANU College of Science, engaged in conduct in entering the promotion which is fraudulent, misleading, deceptive or generally damaging to the goodwill or reputation of the promotion and/or the ANU College of Science. The ANU College of Science reserves the right to disqualify a winner if the ANU College of Science becomes aware that the winner and/or the winner’s entry is of a type described in this clause.
  24. The ANU College of Science accepts no responsibility for any late, lost or misdirected entries including delays in the completion of tasks due to technical disruptions, network congestion or for any other reason.
  25. The ANU College of Science’s decision is final and the ANU College of Science will not enter into correspondence regarding the result or winning entries.
  26. In the case of the intervention of any outside act, agent or event which prevents or significantly hinders the ANU College of Science’s ability to proceed with the competition on the dates and in the manner described in these terms and conditions, including but not limited to vandalism, power failures, tempests, natural disasters, acts of God, civil unrest, strike, war, act of terrorism, the ANU College of Science may in its absolute discretion cancel the competition and recommence it from the start on the same conditions, subject to any directions given under State Regulation.
  27. The ANU College of Science reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual they believe has breached any of these conditions, or engaged in any unlawful or other improper misconduct calculated to jeopardise the fair and proper conduct of the promotion.
  28. The ANU College of Science collects personal information about you to enable you to participate in this promotion.
  29. All certificates (including winners’) are not an AQF certificate.